By Dina Varellas, TIWP Women’s Writing Program
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”
― Brené Brown
Where does she go, the creator in me, when she is afraid?
“What am I afraid of?” I whisper.
“Being judged, of course. Being criticized for being vulnerable,” the young girl replies.
Yet the woman I am becoming knows she can no longer resist and suppress the inner voice. When the mind is quiet and the heart secure, the inner voice speaks the truth.
The inner critic is the one I fear the most. She is fierce, ruthless, and a force to be reckoned with. She has created an internal war for most of my young and adult life. She is the scared voice who told me to divert and change course instead of holding steady. She is the sound of unworthiness that I am not “enough.”
We all have a team of opponents and fans, some louder than others. I learned to concede whenever my inner mean girl was bolder than my nerve.
Beneath vulnerability rests a layer of perceived danger. We defend our hearts against being disappointed, misunderstood, and embarrassed. We outline an agenda of what and how we should be with Self and others. We learn to repeat and reinforce unfavorable truths; for years and even decades, until one day, we catch on. We become aware and begin to remove the layers of armor, learning to rest in the freedom of our heart.
In, around, under and above the layers of pain and suffering, judgment and failure, loss and grief, conditions and beliefs, rests a deeper connection to spirit, a wondrous world to discover. It is a recognition of our essential being, a profound sense of trust and knowing.
I am afraid that my written word will not be perfect, that it will be too long, too short, grammatically incorrect, inaccurate, misunderstood, incomplete, always a draft never to be published. I am worried that the courage required to authentically express myself will not be well-received.
“You are an imposter,” the inner critic echoes. “You talk of spirituality, awareness, mindfulness, and being present. But admit it, you fail. You judge, both self and others. You rage with anger and distress, and at the slightest encounter with illness, you panic. The thought of disease and death shakes you to your core, drops you to your knees, and keeps you up at night.”
I am, after all, human. I’m learning to give myself permission to be who I am. With the support of intuitive and spiritual teachers and healers, community, and sisterhood, I am becoming acquainted with the Ancient Tradition of Yoga, connecting with my inner compass and guide—my feminine intuition—and learning to implement tools and practices to care for the mind. I am developing the courage to confront thirty years of force, repression and old reactions. The more I study, the more curious I become, and the more I desire to live a more spiritual life. I am encouraged to seek freedom from disappointment and view failure as a lesson, a technique to learn and master, to celebrate the beauty in the wild waves of emotion and not to be afraid of the water.
I am creating a habit of slowing down and catching on, to witness and observe, without judgment, the many voices and faces. I am committed to training attention and awareness, to pause and notice when reacting from a place of past trauma and pain, opinion and belief, coloring fear, ego, and expectation. The journey I embarked on a decade ago has revealed, shifted and change me in ways I never imagined. I have only begun.
Each of us carries wounds, defenses, and biases used to shield against defeat and heartache. It does not have to be isolating. We are human; thus, we shall be vulnerable. Through writing and wisdom, I hope to remove the barrier of separation and generate a connection. Hopeful my words and stories will reach and resonate and create a link between. We are not alone in our thoughts. We mirror each other’s wounds and scars.
It is time to heal and nurture, to hold a gentle presence with our process, to choose freedom over certainty, to release guilt and self-punishment, to allow for the beauty and wild grace of our true self to shine.
The relationship with myself is long-awaited and welcome. It will continue to shift and transform every minute, hour, day, month, year, and decade. Each moment presents itself as an opportunity for growth, a chance to soften and see clear, to release judgment and expectations and welcome loving-kindness and compassion towards Self and others. The key to setting up success starts with creating harmony in the body, mind, and spirit.
When I am clear and at ease, I am home. When I am home, my inner wisdom and intuition blossoms: ordinary and extraordinary, exquisitely rich in color and tone, an inspiration to herself and others.